The beavers were gone, that much I was sure of. No goodbye letter, no forwarding address, they’d just up and left at some point. Beavers don’t make very good tenants. They show up uninvited, re-decorate, then leave without paying their rent when the snacks run out. Kind of reminds me of some people I know. Many a time I’d visited the brook turned swimming pool over the years, catching a glimpse of my deliquent renters, fixing their dam and going about their business.
Since they’d left, their luxurious lake had gone downhill. The dam itself had a big hole in it, causing the water level to drop lower and lower, year after year. At different times I’d tried the trout fishing there, always with the same results. Not even a single, solitary bite, which left me a bit bewildered. I’d fished beaver dams in other places and managed to catch brook trout, nice ones. Could it be possible that these beavers were sub-letting the pond to the fish? And then evicted them at some point? It was more than my simple mind could fathom.
So on this particular day, I had a plan. Different anglers over the years had told me the fish must be there, it had to be my bait. An earlier trip to a local hardware store fixed that. I picked up a package of red, rubbery worms guaranteed to cause a “feeding frenzy”. When I got to the pond, my fingers trembled as I baited my line while I imagined a whole school of brook trout leaping at my hook. Crashing into each other like mad boaters, getting concussions as they jockeyed for position to feast on the fantasic, fraudulent fish food.
After a little while I came to the realization that my bait was worthless. As it hung uselessly from the end of the hook, I thought about how naive I’d been. If I went to a buffet, I highly doubt I’d be fooled into eating a rubber steak. My dogs don’t even like rubber toys that much. As a matter of fact, if you set a steaming plate of rubber hot dogs in front of starving man who’d been lost in the bush for three weeks, he’d still ask you for something else. Feeling foolish, I rebaited my hook with a real worm and waited.
Time passed. The warm, May sun put me in a trance. Skater bugs sailed around like stars on ice, birds chirped and a hawk flew by a few yards from me. It was so relaxing, I started to doze. Suddenly, my bobber went to the bottom like it was attached to the Titantic. I leaped to my feet, could it be possible? The bobber resurfaced, then dove again. In a panic I yanked my line, only to snag a tree, no doubt used as a chesterfield by my long gone, deliquent renters. I lost my hooks and weights while the bobber went sailing to the end of the pond, then exited out the back through the gaping hole. As I collected the bobber and fixed my line, I grumbled to myself. Had I imagined the whole thing?
With dogged determination like a starving man with a gut full of rubber hot dogs, I tried again. I cast my line and waited. Within five minutes I had my answer. The bobber sank quicker than a Millie Vanillie come-back tour. Feverishly, I reeled in my line, wondering what was putting up such a good fight. A brook trout! And a nice one at that. I couldn’t believe it. After so many years of nothing, I’d caught a lovely fish that was on a one way trip to my frying pan. All I needed was another one to go with it.
As I rebaited my hook, I heard a noise beside me. My soon-to-be-sauteed friend had no intention of being a dinner guest and was flopping around wildly. Before I could lay my hands on him, he fell down the hole in the dam and escaped. Like a fool who’d just tossed his money in a wishing well and recanted, I drove my arm into the hole, hoping to catch him. I would’ve been better off lighting a fire and then trying to catch the smoke. My trout was gone and no doubt warning his friends because I didn’t manage to catch another. Sadly, I made my home with nothing except my rubber worms which were now on a collision course with my trash can. That is, unless they’re good with butter and onions.